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Gully stars in Goa

Christine Machado | NT BUZZ

The second day of GoaFest 2019 saw host and actress Kubbra Sait sitting down for a chat with Bollywood actress Kalki Koechin and actor Siddhant Chaturvedi. Kalki, who has given hits like the ‘Girl with Yellow Boots’, ‘Margarita’ with a ‘Straw’ and was most recently seen in the Amazon Prime series ‘Made in Heaven’, was also a part of the hit Bollywood film ‘Gully Boy’ which saw Siddhant emerge as the new star to watch out for.

For Siddhant, who has previously been a part of the hit Amazon Prime series ‘Inside Edge’, finding success has been long time coming, having begun his showbiz career by going for plenty of ad auditions. However save for 5 to 6 ads, Siddhant stated that he was for most part not cast. “Apparently I was not the boy next door type and didn’t have a ‘relatable face’,” he recounted.

The ‘Gully Boy’ audition happened after Zoya Akhtar spotted him dancing at a party, he recalled. “I had a day to prepare. They had told me that it was rap related. I had not paid much attention to rap before. So I looked up a few videos on YouTube but realised that it was tough to learn and these rappers were talking about their own struggle. Instead I decided to sit down and write about my own struggle, memorise it and then went in front of the camera and did my own thing,” he narrated.

Kalki on the other hand first began with theatre which she studied in London. “It was all thanks to my teacher in school who first planted the idea that you can actually study and get a degree in drama. I went to London thinking it would be all fun but it was really tough,” she recalled. Kalki ended up waitressing in a cafe during her first year of college and then worked in a cinema in her second year. As it so happened, her first film ‘The Girl in Yellow Boots’ had its premiere in the same theatre.

But getting the part in the film was an interesting story in itself as the director Anurag Kashyap initially rejected her as he didn’t want a ‘Russian model’ in his film, but a ‘real actress’. “He had seen my Bollywood portfolio pictures and had immediately rejected me based on that. He hadn’t seen me audition initially,” said Kalki. However soon after she auditioned and after he saw the audition, he called her back and she eventually ended up getting the part.

And while she may have made it big in the industry today, Kalki believes that struggle is constant. “Struggle is not just job related; you struggle throughout your life. Now the challenge is on how to remain relatable and relevant. One also has to think about how to keep being inspired because there is a tendency to just stay in one’s comfort zone. But one needs to step out of that zone every once in awhile. I think that is my struggle today,” she said.

She further revealed that there have been instances when she has been asked to change things about herself for a role. In fact one producer suggested that she get botox done for laughter lines. “Immediately, I thought to myself that I should stop laughing. It took a long time to realise that it was a very sexist comment to make,” she admitted. There is a need to look at these comments in a very objective manner, she added. “This is an industry where people look at you and there is glamour to it. So the question is are you willing to go that way or are you not? I think it is a fair choice that everyone has to make according to what they really want out of success,” she said.

Given the many different roles that actors have to play, she stated that it is exciting to get into another person’s shoes. “You have to find something about that character which is different and what you can take away from yourself. As an actor the whole job is to camouflage constantly,” she said. Siddhant also echoed her sentiments. “I can’t be myself for very long. I need some other skin to wear. In real life I am very boring. I like playing something which is not me. Of course the character will still have a bit of you in it,” he said and added that Zoya Akhtar did a fabulous job etching out the performance from him in ‘Gully Boy’.

While the film may have given him his new found fame, Siddhant states that he didn’t feel much while watching himself for the first time onscreen in the film. “My thought was, ‘Okay, job well done, now what’s next’,” he admitted.

Kalki on the other hand admitted that she is terrible at watching herself onscreen. “I have to watch myself twice, the first time to criticise myself and then the second time to properly enjoy it,” she revealed, while also agreeing that the shooting process is much scarier than watching the film after. “I always hate the first day of shooting as I am not sure if I am getting the character right. But it is true that by the time the film releases you have usually gone on to shoot for other things. Also, as actors you can’t be stuck on the success or failure of one film. You are only as good as your new film honestly. You got to learn to keep going,” she said.

With nepotism still very much prevalent in the film industry, the duo could not escape a question about it during the session. Siddhant was quite blunt in admitting that for outsiders like himself, rather than being a drawback it was a welcome challenge. “The beauty of nepotism is that star kids get employment because, what else will they do? Secondly it infuses a certain level of mediocrity in the market. But I look at it as an opportunity to work on myself and be better than them,” he said. At the same time he conceded that talent was what would take you all the way anyway. “It is not a matter of being an outsider or a star kid – only if you have talent, can you survive,” he said.

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